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December 13, 2012


Family Ski Breaks

by Julianne Mooney

Copy of Grandvalira_chairlift

It’s no secret that a ski holiday is a luxury these days, so to consider taking your family off to the slopes, you need to do your research to get the best deal. There are many considerations to take into account before booking your holiday, but before you even do this, determine your budget. This will rule out certain resorts, but if it’s your first ski holiday, the most important factor is that the resort has good ski schools and suitable slopes.

There’s no getting around it, ski trips are expensive holidays, however, if you do your research and shop around, there are affordable options. When booking for your family keep the below points in mind:
1. Explore your options – study the brochures and read through your options. Many resorts will offer free lift passes for children and/or accommodation will include free children’s spaces based on a family room basis. These spaces book out quickly so you need to book in advance.
2. Choose a resort where you will be able to eat out at an affordable price – Italy can offer good value, as does Andorra while Austria and France are a little more expensive.
3. Look out for sales – a number of tour operators are running sales at the moment, so shop around –Topflight, Direct Ski and Crystal Ski.
4. Ski hire and tuition – look for a company that offers free child tuition when you book yours or those that offer free crèche facilities. Some ski hire places will give significant discounts on children’s ski hire if you hire yours from them.
5. Choose family friendly resorts – Italy, Austria and France are the most family-friendly resorts. It is also important to check transfer times from the airport to your resort, proximity to lifts as it is easier to have ski-in/ski-out option when with children.
6. When booking a family trip, it works out cheaper by booking a package holiday with an agency and also provides the security of having an agent to help should anything go wrong.
7. Choose a resort that offers off-slope activities – sports centres, husky rides, sleighing etc.

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Austria is a popular ski destination for families as the resorts tend to be child-friendly with many hotels offering free places for children in family rooms. Basic holiday costs, lift pass, ski school and eating out costs less in Austrian resorts than France. The resorts also tend to have a higher standard of service, good lift systems and English speaking ski schools.
Some of the best resorts for families include: St. Johann (1 ½ hrs from Salzurg) – a small charming town, with good slopes for both beginners and intermediate. There is also a large Swimming World that has indoor pools, children’s playground and other activities for children to keep them entertained when they’re not on the slopes.
Similarly, Zell Am See has a short transfer time from the airport (1 hour from Salzurg) and caters for families, with an ice-skating rink, children’s snow park and plenty of off-piste activities aimed at families.
Obergurgl is another family favourite, with no through traffic and excellent nursery slopes. This is often used as a flexi-ski holiday, with flights going into Munich, however there is a 2 ½ hour transfer from here.


Getting There Fly direct to Salzburg from €80 one way
Fly direct to Munich from €80 one way

Hotel Accommodation B&B from €350 per person per week

Ski Pass & Tuition
From €216 adult/ €108 child – 6 day ski pass based on prices in Zell am See/Kaprun
From €170 adult/€130 child – 5 day ski pass

Special Offers
22 December – Austria with WWW.CRYSTALSKI.IE
St. Johann – From €449 per adult includes 7 nights in a guest house B&B basis, transfers and flights

St. Johann – From €699 (was €989)* per adult includes 7 nights in 4* Sporthotel Austria, half board basis, transfers and flights
*Quote TV3 when making the booking and the booking must be made on Thursday 13th December

O’Hanrahan Travel 
From €3100 includes flights, transfers and accommodation in Hotel Heitzmann, Zell Am See in a family room, half board – 2 adults and 2 children



Avoriaz is a family-friendly resort, set in the highest peaks of the Portes du Soleil, giving access to an extensive ski area. Boasting this year’s title – Best Family Resort 2012 (World Snow Awards) the resort is a favourite amongst families for its traffic-free system and ski-in/ski-out facilities. The resort was built by skiers for skiers, meaning everything is convenient, so no lugging skis around the village. Simply put on your skis and go!
On arrival, you are dropped at the edge of town and transfer to accommodation is by horse and sleigh, a fantastic novelty factor for the little ones. Hotels cater for families in family rooms and cosy lodges. 90% of the accommodation is self-catering, which works well for families, keeping costs down.
Positioned just above Morzine, connected by gondola, you can pay a visit to the popular resort and experienced skiers will be spoilt for choice with runs stretching across the Portes du Soleil – you can even ski in for a spot of lunch to Switzerland!
Le Village des Enfants takes children from 3 years + introducing children to snow based activities and older children to ski school. Its facilities are excellent – a chalet full of activities and special slopes with fun things such as teepees and run after ski activities such as drawing, theatre, films and lots more.
This is not going to be your cheapest option, but for ease and sheer quality, if you have the budget, this is a great option for families.

Getting There
Direct flights to Geneva from €80 one way

Hotel Accommodation – B&B from €350 per week

Ski Pass & Tuition
From €175 for 6 day adult pass/€125 for 6 day children’s pass
From €155 for 6 half-days for Le Village des Enfants

Special Offers


From €519 per adult/€339 child includes flights, transfers and accommodation in 3* Residence Les Crozats, Avoriaz on a self catering basis



Andorra relies on its tourism industry and its government has worked hard to provide incentives to attract visitors to the slopes of this land-locked country in the Pyrenees. Four years ago, they introduced free lift passes for all children under the age of 11 years (inclusive) which is a major attraction to families.
Andorra is a favourite with Irish families, as it has excellent facitilites for beginners with very competitive rates, not to mention tax-free shopping. The restaurants, accommodation and ski hire prices are some of the lowest you will find in Europe and the resorts cater for children with ski schools taking young children and accommodation offering free spaces for children.
A negative for Andorra is that there are no direct flights so your transfer time is between 3.5 – 4 hours. This can be off-putting for families with young children.
Flights tend to go in to Toulouse, however if you’re renting a car, you can get cheap flights into Carcassone and the transfer from here, depending on the resort you are going to, is around 3 hours.
The three main resorts are Arinsal (3hrs 45 mins transfer), Pas de la Casa (2 hrs 45mins transfer) and Soldeu (3 hrs transfer).
The best resort for families is Soldeu, which has excellent ski school and great ski area for beginners and intermediates. The best hotels in the resort for families would be: Sport Hotel, Sport Village Hotel, Piolets Park & Spa or the Nordic Hotel – all are well located to the slopes and a good standard.
Arinsal is also popular and has a Baby Club where you can leave infants aged 1-4 years in the care of professionals while you go skiing. It is open from 9am-5pm and costs €155 for 5 days.

Getting There
Direct flights to Carcassone from €80 one way

Charter flights into Toulouse as part of a package deal from €339 per person (flights, transfers, accommodation)

Hotel Accommodation -B&B from €250 per week

Ski Pass & Tuition
From €200 for 6 day adult pass
Children: Boot hire/lift pass and tuition for 6 days from €106
From €95 for 5 half-days tuition on nursery slopes for children aged 4-6 years

Special Offers
23rd December – Andorra with Crystal Ski 
2* Manzano Apartments, Pas de la Casa based on 4 sharing from €349 per adult includes flights, transfers and accommodation
El Tarter – From €599 per adult includes flights, transfers and accommodation in 4* Euro Ski Hotel Half Board

O’Hanrahan Travel 
From €2300 includes flights, transfers and accommodation in Hotel Piolets Park & Spa in Soldeu in a family room, half board – 2 adults and 2 children

Soldeu – From €629 per adult * (was €829) includes flights, transfers and accommodation in 4* plus Piolets Park on half board basis
*Quote TV3 when making the booking and the booking must be made on Thursday 13th December

4 Comments Post a comment
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Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Family Ski Breaks : Travelling Information Tips and Resources
  2. The Ultimate Ski Breaks | Julianne Mooney

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